LITTLE FALLS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Following a tense standoff with police, a suspect was arrested Monday in connection with the stabbing death of a Cedar Grove teen.
Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes announced that Jonathan Lafontaine, 20, of Totowa was arrested on first-degree murder and other charges.
The victim, Brian Topoleski, 18, graduated from Cedar Grove High School just a few weeks ago.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, he was stabbed to death Sunday night after what’s being called a senseless confrontation.
Prosecutors said it began with a case of mistaken identity at the intersection of Main and Union in Little Falls.
Young people in a Jeep yelled at young people in a Mercedes, thinking they knew them.
“Within moments, the occupants in the Jeep realized that they did not know the occupants in the Mercedes,” Valdes said.
The Jeep drove off to a house on Jacobus Avenue in Little Falls and the Mercedes followed, according to prosecutors.
There were more angry words, and then Lafontaine allegedly ran into the house and grabbed two steak knives.
The prosecutor said a friend then tried to grab him.
“While he’s trying to prevent Lafontaine from leaving, he sustains a cut to his hand,” said Valdes.
Investigators said that’s when Lafontaine ran outside, punched Topoleski and stabbed him fatally in the chest.
“Our investigation has not revealed any prior dealings with each other at all,” Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mike DeMarco said.
Police were called to the home on Jacobus Avenue in Little Falls at around 1 a.m. Monday, where they found Topoleski dead.
That’s when a nearly two-hour standoff between police and the suspect ensued. Nearby homes were evacuated during the negotiations in case the situation became even more dangerous.
“SWAT team came and knocked on the door, a lot of guns, a lot of armor,” said neighbor David Weinstein.
Several neighbors said the homeowners moved to Manhattan about a year and a half ago, but their two children, a young man and woman about 18 and 19 years old, stay there once or twice a week. They say it’s known for being a party house.
“I just thought it was a party going on with a bunch of college kids drinking and whatnot,” said neighbor Sheryl Kattas.
Authorities found Lafontaine hiding in the backyard and took him into custody without a fight.
One police officer told Aiello that this was a deadly mix of big egos that didn’t know when to back down.
The last homicide in Little Falls happened in 1983.
The investigation was ongoing.
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